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Aihesivun Jean Sibelius -viulukilpailu pääkuva

How to choose a sonata?

Yleisö.
Yleisö. Kuva: Sandra Saulo/YLE helsingin konservatorio

Text: Tatu Tamminen

Jaakko Ilves Tatu Tammisen haastattelussa.
Jaakko Ilves is the professor of violin at the Sibelius Academy. Jaakko Ilves Tatu Tammisen haastattelussa. Kuva: Sandra Saulo/YLE jaakko ilves
On Friday the first seven semi-finalists were ready to tackle their almost hour-long programs.
One of the most refreshing elements in a marathon like the Sibelius violin competition is the freedom the competitor may experience when moving on to the second round. Compared to round one, there are more possibilities to perform repertoire of one's personal choices. The recital-like performance and full-fledged duo sessions are soul food for the performer as well as for the audience.
"The second round is considered a recital," says violin professor Jaakko Ilves, currently a member of the competition committee, and a former judge in the Sibelius Violin Competition. He feels a smart musician sticks to the solid choices without wandering off to all kinds of "cool" repertory. The teacher's responsibility is to maintain the balance between the student and the big piece. "If the student hangs on to a task that is already doomed, I always ask, 'Are you sure?' In tough situations I usually cave in."
This year's sonata assortment contains 21 works. "In the next competition I don't see why the choices couldn't be completely free, but it is hard to let go of the familiar patterns," Ilves says.
Diana tunnisti Tamin kilpailupianisti Naoko Ichihashin tyttäreksi.
Diana Tishchenko with chat hostess Tami Pohjola. Diana tunnisti Tamin kilpailupianisti Naoko Ichihashin tyttäreksi. Kuva: Sandra Saulo/YLE diana tishchenko
Diana Tishchenko was able to pick out a sonata closest to her heart. Sonata number one for the violin and piano by Sergei Prokofjev evokes very special emotions. On stage Tishchenko's mind was filled with the darkness and drama her own grandmother had to go through during the war. "There is a segment where I tried to reach the utmost brutality. After the performance I felt like calling my boyfirend right away; we have performed the sonata together many times."
Viulisti Friederike Starkloff oli nälkäinen soittonsa jälkeen.
Friederike Starkloff after her second round performance Viulisti Friederike Starkloff oli nälkäinen soittonsa jälkeen. Kuva: Sandra Saulo/YLE friederike starkloff
Friederike Starkloff from Germany managed to build some pleasurable opposing tension in her program. After the heavy Prokofjev sonata, she needed another battle boost for the Sibelius Humoresques. "Great music, but it was tough to continue after a 30-minute piece. Almost all of the sonatas were my favorites," smiles Starkloff. "At least the Brahms and Schubert."
On Friday during the performances of Fedor Rudin and Stephen Tavani, it was noticable that choosing the sonata by Leoš Janáček gave some additional minutes to spare for other things. Pekko Pulakka, the first semi-finalist to perform, had a balanced feeling
Viulisti Pekko Pulakka alkueräsuorituksen jälkeen.
Pekko Pulakka likes the recital form of the semi-final round Viulisti Pekko Pulakka alkueräsuorituksen jälkeen. Kuva: Sandra Saulo/YLE jean sibelius -viulukilpailu 2015
about his morning recital. When choosing repertory, he takes developing the quality of his own musicianship into consideration as well as how suitable the pieces are at the current stage.
"Here making the choices is like a puzzle, in which a certain type of a virtuoso piece makes you pick a different kind of sonata. Because of the duration aspect, the Prokofjev sonata demanded a shorter virtuoso piece by its side," Pulakka says about his own premises. A recital-like approach is his favorite game. His working with pianist Mikael Kemppainen is not limited to two stage sessions and rehearsing in the hall. Kemppainen is a frequent pianist at various domestic master classes. "I really enjoy playing chamber music with him. Mikael was my pianist also at the Kuopio violin competition. He has accompanied me to the gatherings of the Violin Academy four or five times a year."
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